“Wake up, whether you are attending the morning lecture, the afternoon lecture, or the various denominational houses, because God has you here on assignment. You have to wake up so you can tell others at home to wake up,” said the Rev. Frank M. Reid III at the 9:15 a.m. Tuesday morning worship service in the Amphitheater. His sermon title was “Trust God and Do Good” based on Psalm 37:3.
“When you wake up — not if you wake up — when you wake up, stop worrying,” he said. “Charles Spurgeon said that faith stops fretting. I want to expand that to say that the purpose of early morning worship at Chautauqua is worship will stop worrying. Worship puts the focus on the presence and power of God in each one of us. When worry turns to worship, something great happens.”
It is the tragedy of the church, he said, that it thinks one can only worship in a building.
“Worship is when you remember the greatness of God, when you remember that ‘God is bigger than my problems, than irrationality, than the world,’ ” Reid said. “God will take the mess and make a miracle. When you stop worrying, your assignment is to trust in the Lord and do good.”
In order to do that, he told the congregation to think, trust, take action and transform.
When facing a challenge, think about it, he said. There is a way out.
“Think about what God has brought you out of,” Reid said. “When you trust God, God will surely take you through.”
Reid again recommended David Brooks’ book The Road to Character. Behind every battle is a blessing, he said, and you can use your struggles as an opportunity to strengthen your character.
“The choice is yours,” he said.
Brooks writes about Dorothy Day in his work. When Day realized true faith means being actively obedient — to not just trust God while in the pew, but to take that trust and put it into action — is when Day knew she was saved, Reid said. Brooks writes that people who suffer are not masters of their pain. They ask “What am I supposed to do?” When confronted with suffering, they go to a deeper level than personal happiness, and their response is not happiness but holiness. They are put in touch with a wider community and the eternal.
“This is a calling on your life,” Reid said.
“Rev. Franklin asked me to talk about the history of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. It knows the power of God — even in pain,” he said.
The denomination was founded in 1787 in Philadelphia by Richard Allen, a slave who had paid for his freedom. As more black people came to the Methodist church, they were told by white brothers and sisters to go up to the balcony and pray after the white people were gone. They went to a blacksmith shop to worship and became a denomination in 1816.
“What you saw in Charleston is the historic response of the [AME] Church to suffering,” Reid said. “Think about all Jesus has done. Think about the men lynched and castrated and the women raped. Think about God and forgive; love our oppressors. That is why all nine families could say, ‘We forgive you’ because they trusted in the Lord and did good.’ ”
He continued, “When you trust and do good you can sing the old song ‘I will trust in the Lord till I die. I will treat everybody right till I die.’ Trust in the Lord and do good, and God will make a way for you somehow.”
The Rev. Carmen Perry presided. Melissa Tawk, the 2015 intern with the International Order of King’s Daughters and Sons and a student at Holy Spirit University of Kaslik, Lebanon read Proverbs 3:3-10. The Rev. Christian Savage, summer intern at Bethel AME Church, accompanied the preacher to the platform. Jared Jacobsen conducted the Motet Choir. The choir sang ”How Can I Keep from Singing,” text by Anna Bartlett Warner, music by Robert Lowry and arranged by Z. Randall Stroope. The Mr. and Mrs. William Uhler Follansbee Memorial Chaplaincy provides support for this week’s services.